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Behind The Darkness Of Plaid's Soundtrack For The Carp And The Seagull [Interview]

Found out how the duo of producers flipped to a darker vibe to create this ominous score.

Evan Boehm’s interactive film The Carp and the Seagull, which premiered on the Digital Gallery last week, is a tale of terror, following a man on a dark journey into unexplored dimensions triggered by his meeting an ominous snow demon. The right musical accompaniment for such a story can only be as dark as the subject matter, heightening the tension at the right times as the viewer guides his or her way through it. That’s why Plaid was an unusual choice for this score.


Since the duo’s beginnings as members of The Black Dog, followed by a long career with Warp Records, Andrew Turner and Ed Handley have specialized in a style that any listener would immediately refer to as “happy.” Upbeat rhythms, glimmering synths, and sentimental melodies are at the core of what Plaid creates, which makes one wonder how they went about shifting their psyches and delving into Boehm’s WebGL world of despair.

As it turns out, it’s just a matter of flipping the vibe. All you have to do is listen to their track “Myopia” to hear how Plaid can go from light to dark and right back to light. We spoke with the duo to find out more about their scoring work, their time at Warp, and who they’d like to hear rapping on their tracks.

The Creators Project: Much of your music to date has been very rhythmic, layered with lots of dynamic melodic parts. Was it a big mental shift to create an ambient score that’s somewhat simpler in composition as you did for The Carp and the Seagull? Or is there more going on behind the score than meets the ears?
Plaid: The work led the composition. This is an incredibly bleak tale and the score needed to reflect that. It’s a situation we wouldn’t naturally write for but we’ve touched on similarly wracked moments with Tekkonkinkreet; there we were required to be more emotive though.

From “Shackbu” to “Missing,” I always associate Plaid’s music with upbeat, happy imagery, as is the nature of your sound processing and melodies. Did you have a different process for composing the dark score for The Carp and the Seagull?
We are by nature happy and upbeat; our nearest and dearests may not agree here. Our darker moments rarely hang around long enough to produce finished work though. The Carp and the Seagull has required more sound design than usual and a lot of restraint melodically, even more so than with other scores we’ve worked on, since here the user decides when to act rather than the director. It’s not possible to build melodically to a key moment when you don’t know it’s coming.


In the past few years, you guys have really broken into scoring, first with Tekkonkinkreet and then again with Heaven’s Door, and now The Carp and the Seagull. Any future plans to score films? Any major aspirations for who you’d like to work with? And on that note, any favorite films from the past that you’d love to score?
We are keen to do more and there are some possible projects coming up. We’d like to write for sci-fi. Moon was an exceptional recent example, but Clint Mansell‘s score was a big part in that. It’s difficult to imagine enjoying a film with a terrible soundtrack, to be honest. We like Darren Aronofsky’s work, Wes Anderson, Coen brothers… directors tend to find composers they like and stick with them.

You guys have been on Warp forever. What’s your favorite album that’s come out on Warp Records since you joined the label? Your favorite song on that album?
Yes, we still remember signing that contract at the start of recorded time—nobody could find a pen, hilarious! Too many good albums to choose one. Tom Jenkinson (Squarepusher) is one of our favorite artists with the label, both for his live work and recordings.

If you had to contribute one of your existing songs to a rapper, which beat from your catalog and which rapper would you choose?
We’d love to hear Busta Rhymes on “Squance.”

So would I! What piece of gear that you’ve acquired in the past couple of decades would you say has changed your sound the most?
Without any doubt, a computer.

One of your early tracks (and one of my favorites) is called “Scoobs In Columbia.” It’s been years and I haven’t been able to figure it out. Where did that name come from!?
Scoobs was a DJ name before Plaid.

And finally… is electronic music lamer now that everyone is into it?
Some artists are driven by boredom and other factors to explore new areas of music and some of them are electronic musicians. Derivative music is lame.